While Washington Wizards‘ John Wall may be soon be paid as one of the league’s top point guards, a spot on Team USA would go a long way on validating such a contract.
With that said, what exactly are the chances that he is heading to Rio in 2016?
As Team USA carrying three point guards on their roster in the 2012 Olympics, Wall is among 10 other guards vying to take a spot from incumbents Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams. While none of the aforementioned has stated their intentions regarding Rio, Kevin Durant indicated that he expected his teammate Westbrook to join him upon announcing that he would play in Rio.
Furthermore, seeing how the extended Olympic action hurt Williams in his last tour, it’d be reasonable to guess that he will not be returning.
The huge question mark is what Paul will do. He’s gone back and forth regarding his intentions, but for all intents and purposes I will also rule him out. Paul has already had bouts with injury and as he ages, I don’t see that getting any better. This leaves two spots up for grabs. The first names that come to mind to fill these vacancies have to be one Derrick Rose and Stephen Curry.
Rose was unable to play because of a torn ACL in the last go-round, and with him being the competitor he is, you’d have to assume he’d be chomping at the bit to take home a gold medal. Curry’s inclusion is solely based on his strength in shooting being Team USA’s only weakness. The physical Olympics play may leave Curry as a liability on the defensive end, but his shooting would easily offset any defensive shortcomings.
With Westbrook’s ability to slide over to the two-spot in Olympic play, there may be room for one more point guard. Unfortunately for Wall, he still isn’t in the discussion for this last spot.
Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard would both be front-runners over Wall. Irving was the star of the USA Select team that scrimmaged against Team USA last season and Lillard, even as a rookie, is already more polished than Wall — courtesy of playing four years in college and actually possessing a jump-shot.
While Wall seemed to come of age at the end of last season, he still has a ways to go to reach the Mount Rushmore of point guards in the NBA. The Washington Wizards may be willing to declare Wall an elite player prematurely, but it’s clear that he will have to make substantial improvement to represent his country in the future … and he can start with his jump-shot.